Tomorrow, Netflix will be premiering a brand new sketch comedy series to its platform, The Who Was? Show. If the name sounds a tad familiar, it’s because you probably are familiar with it! The Who Was? is based off the popular Penguin Books series of the same name that you came across in elementary school where you learned about great historical figures.
The new series is slated to run 13 half-hour episodes showcasing live-action, animated shorts, improvisations, sketches, musical performances and guest appearances (via Deadline). We spoke to one of the stars, Kirrilee Berger, who you’ll get familiar with while you binge watch each episode! Check out our interview where we learn more about how she got into acting, details on the show, and the things you MUST DO at Disneyland!
First off, let’s start with the very beginning. How did you get your start in acting to voice acting to even Broadway?
Both of my parents are in the business. My mom was a dancer, she was a rockette. She was in several Broadway shows around the world. My father is actually a Broadway drummer. He’s done over 20 Broadway shows, it’s so crazy. When they had me, they didn’t actually have any intention of putting me in the business because they know it could be really, really difficult. When my grandma would show me tapes of my mom dancing, I would try and copy it. I remember my [grandma] being like, “Hey, she’s actually not bad. She can kind of move naturally.” Then, my parents thought, “Alright, let’s start small. Let’s put her in a dance class and see how she does.” I played Molly in a youth production of Annie and I fell in love with it. [My parents] started researching and noticed I clearly have a passion for it so they weren’t going to stop me from doing it.
Did you ever imagine yourself pursuing any other career path other than the entertainment industry?
There is certainly other interests that I have. I’ve always loved cooking from a young age. I’ve also really loved teaching and working with children. I was a nanny for a long time, I taught dancing lessons for a long time. I even worked as a princess at children’s birthday parties so I definitely love anything involved with children and teaching. However, I’ve sort of been able to intertwine that into my career. I’ve worked with a lot of children’s programming so it’s given me the opportunity to intertwine my love for teaching and working with children and the entertainment industry.
Huge congrats on your role in Netflix’s new show The Who Was? Show! For our readers who are not familiar with the book series, can you tell us a bit about what the show will be about?
The Who Was? Show is actually based on a book series called The Who Was? book series by Penguin Books. They are books that are in almost every public elementary school around the country. They teach children about these amazing historical figures that have shaped our society and what it is today. Netflix picked up the show but in a really kind of interesting way. They decided, “Let’s teach these kids about these amazing historical figures and all they’ve done and things they have created or shaped in our society that we might not have thought of. But, let’s do it in a way that’s super fun and super awesome so that children can watch it and not even know that they’re learning.” They did it in a sketch comedy format where we tell these amazing stories through sketches, songs, and animation. We even bring in some super cool celebrity guests to tell these stories.
I read that each episode will have an assortment of material from live-action to sketches to musical performances. What has been your favorite thing about being part of the show so far?
My favorite part was being able to explore all these crazy characters, accents, and different time periods. Since I was young, I’ve always had these crazy characters I’d do with my friends or have weird accents that I’d break into randomly. That’s always been something that I’ve loved and I’ve always been a fan of improvisation/sketch format. It was an incredible learning experience to have been apart of that show where I can really have a place to explore all of these crazy characters and accents that I have around in my head and being able to be guided into creating that into a human being that has shaped our world. That was really amazing. Along with working with incredible celebrities, team of writers, and producers that were just so influential into creating these characters.
What is your favorite accent?
Well, I am actually Australian-American. So I am a citizen of the United States and Australia. My mum has an Australian accent. My whole mum’s side of the family has one. I definitely break into that one a lot. [laughs] I think Australian accent is definitely my favorite and I got to do an Australian character on the Who Was? Show. You guys can look out for that and I hope all the Aussie fans of the show will love that.
It’s not uncommon for books to be adapted into movies. However, since this is a bit of a different format, how is it like on set every day since it’s more of sketches rather than cohesive scenes that tell a full story in 30 minutes?
Being on set of that show was kind of crazy town. [laughs] I played up to 6 characters in one day of different genders, age, and time periods. It was the best training you can possibly get as an actor being on that show. [I was] able to instantly switch into a totally different human being. It was wonderful to flex so many different acting muscles.
Being that the series is based off a popular book series, who is a historical figure that you’d love to have the show based off of in the future?
Out of the books, I would love to see a Walt Disney episode. I really would. I’m a huge Disney fan so I think it would be so cool to have a Who Was? Walt Disney episode. But also being Ashkenazi Jewish and having several family members that actually survived the Holocaust, in honor of them, I would love to have the opportunity to play the role of Anne Frank. It would be incredibly powerful.
Netflix has so many amazing shows on its lineup. Other than your own show, what show are you a huge fan of from their collection?
Project Mc² is absolutely amazing because it’s similar to the Who Was? Show. It’s a program that’s getting children excited about learning and teaching them that education is awesome. That education is cool. I think it’s wonderful that Netflix is creating so much content that is teaching kids education is the way to go. It’s awesome to be super educated and super smart.
However, I’m also a huge, huge fan (completely different) of American Vandal and Black Mirror. I think both shows have incredible acting performances.
Later this year, we’ll also be able to hear your voice as Poppy for Nick Jr.’s animated series Butterbean’s Cafe! Congrats! Voice acting is a huge different beast to tackle, however, how do you go about practicing for each different voice acting role to make sure what you’re saying is coming out the way you want it to?
Voice acting is incredibly different because I think when you’re on screen and live action, you sometimes don’t necessarily need words to convey whatever emotion you’re feeling. All of the emotion can just be in your eyes or in your face. But with voice acting, you only have your words to express how you’re feeling. I know that sounds like it would be even easier but it it’s incredibly difficult. Often times what I do when I’m rehearsing is, if I get a script in advance, I’ll actually record myself on my phone saying some of my lines so I can listen back on it and ensure I’m actually conveying the emotion that I think my character would be having.
Do you actually have some sort of drink that helps prep your voice in roles like these? Whether it be green tea + honey… Coffee.. Etc?
I absolutely have a little bit of a regimen. Your vocal cords are so delicate especially when you’re doing things like voice acting. Sometimes you can be saying something in an unhealthy way and not even know it. So, you have to do whatever you can to protect your instrument. I start off with having Yogi Throat Comfort Tea with nothing in it. While I drink that, I like to do a little bit of a vocal warm up to warm up my cords, to get them nice and stretched out. Then I’ll clear out my throat which sounds kind of gross but it can hinder your performance. Right before I record, and also multiple times throughout my recording, I use something that’s very fondly known with everybody at Butterbean’s Cafe as “Yucky Spray” because it’s pretty gross and it kind of burns. It’s really nasty but it’s a singer throat spray. What it does is protects chords and makes sure that even if you have to do anything slightly strenuous, you’re going to be protected. Lastly, I’ll obviously drink lots and lots of water.
Wow that’s a lot. Props to you for that!
Yeah, I love the projects and I would like to be apart of it as long as it’s around so I gotta do whatever I can to protect my cords.
Lastly, since I read that you’re a huge fan of Disneyland: what’s your favorite ride?
My favorite ride in Disneyland is Peter Pan. I love that ride! I think it’s so cute and everlasting. It’s so beautiful! But in Disney California Adventure… Ugh! All the rides are so great. Cars is awesome. Little Mermaid is awesome. But I think my all time favorite ever is Soarin’. I love, love, love Soarin’.
Have you ridden the Guardians of Galaxy ride yet?
I have! I actually went on it the day after my birthday with my best friend and we waited in line for like 2 hours. It was so totally worth it. I’m a huge fan of the Twilight version, the original Tower of Terror, but I’ve got to say, Guardians of the Galaxy took it ten notches up. It was so intense. I loved it!
What’s one ride/food/activity a reader MUST try once they go to Disneyland?
Okay. You’ve definitely got to go on Soarin’ in Disney California Adventure. The first time I went on it with my mum, we were both in tears because it was amazing. Quite frankly, very inspirational! You also got to go wait in line and meet Mickey Mouse! Meet the mouse himself. But as for food, I have top two. You’ve got to try the Mickey premium ice cream bar because I personally think it’s the best ice cream ever and for all of my fellow vegetarians out there, the caprese sandwich from Jolly Holiday Bakery Café is totally to die for. Those are my top four you’ve got to do at Disney.
This Interview Has Been Edited and Condensed for Clarity.
Will you be watching The Who Was? Show? Let us know! Tweet us @CelebMix!